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Gear up for fun, food and festivities in 2018



Photo for: Gear up for fun, food and festivities in 2018

Photo by Glenn P. Knoblock

Whether you want to slide down a snow hill, hang out with hummingbirds or sink your teeth into some food truck fare, the Forest Preserve District has you covered in 2018.

Next year’s event lineup was finalized in October, and it includes an enticing mix of art, nature and recreational happenings. Music lovers, nature nerds and history buffs will have plenty of events and outreach activities to choose from.

First up will be a new event, “Snow Day Festival,” on January 20. This new winter festival is replacing “Musher Mania” and it will be held at a new location, Plum Creek Nature Center, as opposed to Monee Reservoir.

“Food Truck Fridays” is expanding in its second year to four preserves, an increase from this past summer’s three locations. The program was so popular during its inaugural year, more food trucks had to be scheduled to accommodate the hungry crowds.

And “Woods Walk,” a mellow way to mosey around a preselected list of trails on your own time, is back by popular demand.

Here is the list of year-round events and outreach activities that are sure to entice you to head to the District’s preserves and visitor centers in 2018:

Outdoor Fests

Snow Day Festival: noon-4 p.m. January 20, Plum Creek Nature Center. Be a part of World Snow Day weekend. Meet snow dogs and enjoy snow sculpting, sledding and snowshoeing.
Jammin’ Family Kite Fly: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 28, Plum Creek Nature Center. Fly your own kite or watch synchronized kite dancing.

Nature-Themed Events

A Salamander Tale: March 1-May 31, Plum Creek Nature Center. Learn the difference between reptiles and amphibians, and explore ways to protect salamanders and their habitats.
Pop-Up Naturalist Programs: noon-2 p.m. May 20 at Theodore Marsh, June 17 at Hickory Creek Junction, July 15 at Lake Renwick Preserve – Turtle Lake Access, August 19 at Rock Run Preserve – Black Road Access and September 16 at Riverview Farmstead Preserve. Meet a naturalist in your neighborhood and participate in hands-on activities designed for families with young children.
Hummingbird Festival: 1-5 p.m. August 18, Plum Creek Nature Center. Enjoy pollinator presentations, bird viewings, guided tree climbing, slacklining and bike rentals.
Bee-lieve It or Not! The Secret Lives of Bees: September 1-November 30, Plum Creek Nature Center. Bees and other pollinators are important. Learn why with this interactive display.
Woods Walk: September through November. Get out and get moving. Experience 10 preselected preserve trails at your own pace. Log your walks as you go to qualify for a hiking medallion.

Artwork and Entertainment

Don Sala Art Exhibition: January 2-February 28, Plum Creek Nature Center. View photos of nature and barns in Eastern Will County from an award winning photographer.
Island Rendezvous: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 9, Isle a la Cache Museum. Celebrate the 18-century French fur trade. Shoot a bow and arrow, play old fashioned games and make native crafts to take home. Enjoy a petting zoo, birds of prey program and the museum's new turtle exhibit.
Arts & Nature on the River: noon-4 p.m. June 16, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. Stroll paved trails while enjoying art, music and nature.
National Park Service Quilt Exhibition: June 17-July 3, four visitor center locations. Celebrate our national parks by viewing a collection of quilts depicting the flora, fauna and landscapes of all 59 national parks.
Rock the Woods: 6-9 p.m. June 29 at Goodenow Grove Nature Preserve and August 31 at Lower Rock Run Preserve – I&M Canal Access. Slide into summer with food trucks and local bands.

Food Trucks

Food Truck Fridays: 4:30-7 p.m., June through August one Friday each month at Hammel Woods – Crumby Recreation Area, Hickory Creek Barrens Nature Preserve, Whalon Lake and Prairie Bluff Preserve. Sample an eclectic lineup of food truck offerings while you soak in some forest preserve views.

"A Salamander Tale" and "Bee-lieve It or Not! The Secret Lives of Bees" were organized by the Purdue Agriculture Exhibit Design Center, Purdue University. Both of these exhibitions and the "National Park Service Quilt Exhibition" are being brought to the Forest Preserve through funding provided by The Nature Foundation of Will County.

All of these upcoming events complement the more than 200 programs the Forest Preserve schedules each year at a wide variety of preserves and on many different nature, art and history topics.

The best way to stay informed about all of the fun in the forest preserves and to get more details on dates and registration information is to sign up, free of charge, for The Citizen newsletter, which comes out once a week via email, or to check out the Forest Preserve's online Event Calendar. Events will be posted closer to the date when they begin.

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Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to our digital newsletter, The Citizen. Signing up is easy, free of charge and provides subscribers with weekly updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family.

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